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Ergo Sum

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A Tour of Columbus

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Columbus has often been described as "a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there." Having spent more than a little bit of time in recent years with people coming to Columbus from elsewhere and seeing how other people from Columbus interact with them, I know why we have the reputation that we do but find it wholly inexcusable.

What is Columbus About?

The critical issue as far as I can tell is that many of the people who have been here for years, even their entire lives, know remarkably little about the city. Schoolchildren will be able to regurgitate various facts like it being the capitol of Ohio, but most people don't translate that into much of a useful picture. Various statistical data could be compiled to start to paint a picture that some will find rather surprising. Census data from 2005, for example, will show that the city itself ranks fifteenth-largest in the U.S. with over 700,000 residents, placing it above such cities as Baltimore, Seattle, and Boston; the metro area scores over 1.7 million residents, which puts it in the top-twenty-five metro areas in the U.S. by population. (Census “quickfacts” for Columbus are readily available.)

Industry in Columbus

Industry in Columbus is quite diverse, providing it no small amount of protection from the sort of boom-bust cycle that characterizes areas dependent upon a single large employer or industry to drive its local economy.

People paying attention to certain developments in industry might know that Columbus is the home of a pioneer in early telecommunication services, CompuServe Information Services, a computer timesharing system established in 1969 and that became best known for its online services well before the Web. Columbus is also the home of fast-food giants Wendy's and White Castle. From across a wide variety of industries, companies including Limited Brands, Inc, and Cardinal Health. Many others that are known well beyond the boundaries of the state and country are also based here.

Even with all of these facts, we still have a problem for visitors. They're probably here to see family or on business; this is generally the stuff that makes for a nice place to live. What makes people want to visit will be things that they can see and do while they're here. Of course, you could always go to a museum of science and industry. Or if you want to venture out to see some of the state government in action, you can visit the state Capitol or the Ohio Judicial Center, home of the state's Supreme Court. But what else can you do?

The Arts, Music, and Nightlife

Columbus has an excellent arts scene. There's the Columbus Museum of Art and plenty of galleries about town, particularly in the Short North district—especially on a Gallery Hop night. Columbus has an outstanding symphony orchestra and an opera company worthy of a bit of bragging.

The city is full of venues for live music of essentially every variety imaginable. And if you're not sure exactly what you want to do, there are plenty of destinations that offer a variety of options available, including the Arena District, South Campus Gateway, downtown, and German Village.

Columbus Sports

Sporting events can always attract a crowd, it would seem. There is no bigger sporting event in Columbus than a football game at The Ohio State University. But that's only one day per week during one season, and even then the Buckeyes are playing away as much as they are playing in Ohio Stadium. Columbus is also home to professional sports like the National Hokey League's Columbus Bluejackets, and Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew. Columbus is also home to arena football's Columbus Destroyers and AAA baseball team Columbus Clippers.

The Value of Locals

Teams are naturally organized into leagues, so people who are paying attention to any of these sports will likely recognize some of the teams here. The real value of being a local is that you'll be able to see things that aren't promoted nationally and that don't have ties via leagues to the places from which people are visiting. That, in my opinion, is where we who live in Columbus need to do a much better job of understanding what is here. That will also require that we get out and do things beyond driving our SUVs from our houses to work and to the suburban malls and shopping centers (“strip malls” to much of the rest of the country, and, by the way, also a Columbus invention: Town & Country in Whitehall was the first).

All of this sounds like reasonable advice in theory but it leaves open the question of how exactly to put all of this into practice. That's a discussion for next time.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-11-04 04:49 PM

an addition to sports recommendations

Posted by lnewton at 2006-11-08 08:43 AM

Not all sports events belong to observers only who sit on their keisters watching paid professionals go through their antics. Some people actually participate! In that regard, your fair city of Columbus, which I do like very much, has one of the better marathons in the US. I've not run it myself, but would love to some day.
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